A Scary Stroll Through Hell: A Review
Stephen Zimmer’s latest release, Hellscapes, Volume 2, gave me many moments of pause. Many times, I simply had to stop and ask what the hell (pun intended), was going on. I’m not a horror fan per se, but I grew up on a steady of diet of Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, and 80s horror flicks. So, I didn’t anticipate it.
And I absolutely loved it!
First, a brief overview of Hellscapes, Volume II: Return to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series by Stephen Zimmer. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!
Dense in places, the first story, The Cavern, made me genuinely concerned for the protagonist, Nicholas. A foreign place, a desolate arid stretch of land with no memory of how he got there, Nicholas is hurdled from one section to another, each time fear grips him and tosses him about like a ball. I won’t spoil the twists, but this particular story had me on edge. Slow to start, once it got to the meat of the action, the suspense was taunt! I was virtually turning pages as fast as my e-reader would let me! Parts of it felt like “The Most Dangerous Game,” but with a horrific additions.
Yet, glorious redemption and escape do not await him.
The Riot called upon a lot of emotions for this reviewer in light of recent police brutality against people of color. Zimmer’s description of Officer Marsden’s behavior, brutality, and beliefs already made me uneasy, but I know it would pay off in the story. I wasn’t disappointed. The officer is almost cliche in his nastiness, but as a reader I still couldn’t wait for him to get his comeuppance. It did not disappoint. This one held a few horror cliches, but I did enjoy the story nonetheless.
Above as Below, the third story in the collection, conjured scenes from the movie of the same title. Quickly, those thoughts were dispatched, for the setting takes place in an area of high cliffs and gusty winds on a mountain, not the beneath the streets of Paris. An attack by wretched wraiths turns an already unpleasant boating trip into something much, much worse. Gale, a pun as the wind gales create trouble for the two protagonists, is a typical female heroine in a horror story. This is a multi-layered story, in that the setting shifts from just being a story about a woman and her friends trapped on the mountain. As the title suggests, there are other things below, in the ocean waters, and above dangerous things–and not the same things.
There are three more stories in this harrowing anthology. If you want Halloween type thrills, wicked turns, and hideous monsters that aren’t friendly to humans, this is definitely the anthology for you. 5 Stars for scaring me to death and giving me nightmares! I loved every minute of it.
Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.
You can find Stephen Zimmer’s online at Website: